Tropical Storm Alex bears down on the Yucatan; extreme heat for Africa and Russia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on June 26, 2010

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The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 is here. Tropical Storm Alex formed last might from an African tropical wave that plowed through the Caribbean this week. Alex's formation location is a typical one for June tropical storms, and the formation date of June 25 is also a fairly typical date for the first storm of the season to form (we average about one June named storm every two years in the Atlantic.) Heavy rainfall will ramp up through the day in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, as Alex continues to intensify, and flooding from these heavy rains will be the main concern from Alex today and Sunday. Satellite loops show that Alex's heavy thunderstorm are growing in intensity and areal coverage at a respectable pace. There is an upper-level high pressure system a few hundred miles west of Alex, and the clockwise flow air around this high is bringing upper-level winds out of the northwest of about 10 knots over the storm, contributing to the 10 knots of wind shear observed in this morning's wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin's CIMSS group. Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm, 29 - 30°C, and dry air is not a problem for Alex. We currently don't have a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the storm, so we will have to wait until 2pm this afternoon to get an updated estimate of Alex's surface winds. The latest satellite estimates of Alex's winds at 8am EDT put the storm's strongest winds at 40 mph.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the tropics at 9am EDT Saturday 6/26/10. Image credit: GOES Science Project.

Forecast for Alex
As I discussed in last night's post, an examination of the nineteen tropical cyclones that have formed in the Western Caribbean and hit the Yucatan Peninsula over the past twenty years reveals that 8 went on to make a second Gulf Coast landfall in Mexico, 5 hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and 6 died after hitting the Yucatan. The ones that died all took a more southerly path across the Yucatan, spending more time over land than Alex will. Alex is large enough and moving far enough north across the Yucatan that passage over the peninsula will not kill it. So, will Alex follow the path climatology says is more likely, and make a second landfall along the Mexican Gulf Coast?


Figure 2. Forecast swath of tropical storm force winds (34 - 63 knots, green colors) and hurricane force winds (yellow and orange colors) as predicted by this morning's 2am EDT run of the HWRF model. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA GFDL team.

The key question remains how Alex will react to the trough of low pressure expected to swing down over the Eastern U.S. on Monday. Some of yesterday's model runs predicted that this trough would be strong enough to pull Alex northwards through the oil slick region into the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. However, the models that were predicting this (the GFS, GFDL, and HWRF models) are all backing off on that prediction. It now appears likely that Alex will cross the Yucatan, emerge into the Gulf of Mexico, then slow down as the trough to its north weakens the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. By Tuesday, the influence of the trough will wane, high pressure will build in, and Alex will resume a west-northwest, or possibly a due west or west-southwest motion, towards the Texas/Mexico border region. Based on the current trends in the models, Alex's tropical storm force winds are likely to stay well south of the oil slick region (Figure 2.) I put the odds of Alex bringing tropical storm-force winds to the oil slick region at 10%. The most significant impact Alex will likely have on the oil slick region is to bring 2 - 4 foot swells that may wash oil over some of the containment booms. These swells will reach the oil slick region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Continued intensification of Alex is likely today, up until landfall. It is a good thing the storm waited until last night to get organized; had it formed a day earlier, it could have easily been a hurricane in the Western Caribbean today. Once Alex emerges back into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, it will likely take the storm at least 24 hours to get re-organized, particularly since the total ocean heat content is low for the 100-mile-wide stretch of water on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Once Alex moves more than 100 miles from the Yucatan, total heat content of the ocean increases substantially, and Alex will have the opportunity to intensify significantly. Steering currents will be weak in the Gulf next week, and it appears that Alex will have time to intensify into a hurricane before making its second landfall along the South Texas/northern Mexico coast. Wind shear is expected to be light, and dry air not a significant impediment. Most of the models are calling for landfall on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this delayed until Thursday. I give Alex a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave (Invest 94L) is a few hundred miles northeast of the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave is producing a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity, and is passing beneath a trough of low pressure that is generating 30 - 40 knots of wind shear, and is not a threat to develop today. However, by Monday, the storm will be in a region of much lower wind shear, and NHC is giving the storm a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday morning. None of the models currently develop 94L, but Bermuda should keep and eye on this system, as it will pass very close to the island on Tuesday.

Extreme heat wave in Africa and Asia continues to set all-time high temperature records
A withering heat wave of unprecedented intensity and areal covered continues to smash all-time high temperatures Asia and Africa. As I reported earlier this week, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar have all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time over the past six weeks. The remarkable heat continued over Africa and Asia late this week. The Asian portion of Russia recorded its highest temperate in history yesterday, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004. (The record for European Russia is 43.8°C--110.8°F--set on August 6, 1940, at Alexandrov Gaj near the border with Kazakhstan.) Also, on Thursday, Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

We've now had eight countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia's hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan. All of these records are unofficial, and will need to be certified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to Chris Burt, author of Extreme Weather, the only year which can compare is 2003, when six countries (the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) all broke their all-time heat records during that year's notorious summer heat wave. Fortunately, the residents of the countries affected by this summer's heat wave in Asia and Africa are more adapted to extreme high temperatures, and we are not seeing the kind of death tolls experienced during the 2003 European heat wave (30,000 killed.) This week's heat wave in Africa and the Middle East is partially a consequence of the fact that Earth has now seen three straight months with its warmest temperatures on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It will be interesting to see if the demise of El Niño in May will keep June from becoming the globe's fourth straight warmest month on record.

Wind and ocean current forecast for the BP oil disaster
East to southeast winds of 5 - 15 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Wednesday, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The resulting weak ocean currents should push the oil to the west and northwest onto portions of the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. I would expect Mississippi to have its most serious threat of oil yet early next week as these winds continue. The long range outlook shows a continuation of east to southeast winds along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Resources for the BP oil disaster
Map of oil spill location from the NOAA Satellite Services Division
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA's interactive mapping tool to overlay wind and ocean current forecasts, oil locations, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

Wunderground's severe weather expert Dr. Rob Carver will likely be posting at least one update on Alex this weekend. My next update will be Sunday morning.

Jeff Masters

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2549. hercj
Quoting muddertracker:
Well, if I was ever on that plane, I'd have to be hammered just to make it through the flight! Doesn't it get really topsy turvy loosey-goosey (technical terms, of course)

The GIV synoptic mission is the smoothest and most boring of the tropical recon missions. its flown at 45.000 feet and in the boundary layers of the ridges and troughs. It is 9.5 hours of just flying around and making pre programed turns. What is funny up until a couple of years ago Hurricane Research Division supplied a science crew for the flights but I noticed the last couple of years its just AOC personnel on the aircraft. Not sure why.
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Alex has made landfall. 9:15 PM EDT.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yeah I posted a station too. Conditions in Belize are really deteriorating, and worse yet at night.


and now that the backside of the storm (the side with the strongest winds so far) is moving ashore now we can see just how strong he is
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Quoting Tazmanian:
you guys are forgeting that the storm will be meet up with MR and MS wind shear


So what do you think will happen with Alex, Taz? ;)
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2545. JRRP
mmmmm
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Quoting Levi32:
Margarita del Sol
Temperature: 83 °F
Dew Point: 80 °F
Humidity: 90%
Wind: E at 41mph
Pressure: 29.64in
Precipitation: 0.01in
Daily Precip.: 0.01in
Yeah I posted a station too. Conditions in Belize are really deteriorating, and worse yet at night.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2543. xcool


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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 27 JUN 2010 Time : 001500 UTC
Lat : 17:24:16 N Lon : 88:19:00 W


TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
NO ADT ANALYSIS AVAILABLE



He has made lanfall
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Oh yeah this is cute!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
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2540. IKE
Quoting Levi32:
Caye Caulker Village
Temperature: 79 °F
Dew Point: 78 °F
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S at 40mph
Pressure: 29.48in

Precipitation: 0.43in
Daily Precip.: 1.76in


Landfall.
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2539. jpsb
Quoting Joanie38:


Hehhehe xcool..you are surprising me every time! lol
Come on over Joanie, I got you a six pack. lol
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1276
Quoting hercj:

Pat trust me on this, in that aircraft you dont even know your flying. It does all the work itself once you get it programed. You just have to stay sober (enough) to land it. lol


I don't care where you make me sit that's one beautiful bird. Now if I could just get that guidance program for my car.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
2537. Levi32
Margarita del Sol
Temperature: 83 °F
Dew Point: 80 °F
Humidity: 90%
Wind: E at 41mph
Pressure: 29.64in
Precipitation: 0.01in
Daily Precip.: 0.01in
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
2536. Patrap
Quoting hercj:

Pat trust me on this, in that aircraft you dont even know your flying. It does all the work itself once you get it programed. You just have to stay sober (enough) to land it. lol


Shucks..I can do dat.

can we do 1 Barrel roll though.
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Quoting Levi32:


I never shut the door on a Texas landfall, but nothing is certain yet obviously. The models always shift back and forth.


What about Southwestern LA landfall??? :)
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2534. Levi32
Caye Caulker Village
Temperature: 79 °F
Dew Point: 78 °F
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S at 40mph
Pressure: 29.48in

Precipitation: 0.43in
Daily Precip.: 1.76in
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting hercj:

Pat trust me on this, in that aircraft you dont even know your flying. It does all the work itself once you get it programed. You just have to stay sober (enough) to land it. lol


You guys need a Flight Engineer?
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Southwestern LA
Na, you'll be ok. I though you were in Texas. Despite your username being "louisianaboy" LOL!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Southwestern LA


Me too..i'm in SWLA. And....Happy early B-Day...:)
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Quoting hercj:

Pat trust me on this, in that aircraft you dont even know your flying. It does all the work itself once you get it programed. You just have to stay sober (enough) to land it. lol
Well, if I was ever on that plane, I'd have to be hammered just to make it through the flight! Doesn't it get really topsy turvy loosey-goosey (technical terms, of course)
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Winds in Belize city over 30mph. Pressures at sub-1000mb threshold.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2528. Levi32
Quoting louisianaboy444:


Why do i all of a sudden have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach? The same one i had when Rita's models were shfiting North...no no go back to Mexico...Its my birthday next week!


I never shut the door on a Texas landfall, but nothing is certain yet obviously. The models always shift back and forth.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Still too early to tell whether or not his birthday will be ruined.

Louisianaboy444, where are you located?


Southwestern LA
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Im leaving for Vegas on July 6th, better not be anything down the road
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Outer Bands of Alex

Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
2524. hercj
Quoting Patrap:


Well I'll def be in the Right Seat..

LOL

Pat trust me on this, in that aircraft you dont even know your flying. It does all the work itself once you get it programed. You just have to stay sober (enough) to land it. lol
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Quoting Levi32:
The BAMM and BAMD shifting north is significant, as they represent what steering currents will be leaning towards while Alex is in the western gulf. The BAMS shows that a weak system will tend to continue westward, whereas a stronger storm will try to head northward, as one would expect. This means that how fast Alex is able to reorganize once it emerges west of the Yucatan will play a potentially important role in its future track.



Wow, another thing interesting in that map is that NHC used to be in the middle of all of those tracks, now it's one of the most southernly and westerly on the map.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Your B-Day will not be ruined. And a Happy early B-Day!!!!


Thanks my family is doing a big BBQ and i gave them the okay to plan it when i was sure Alex was paying a visit to Mexico...lets hope it stays that way...
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2521. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
IMO, towards the end of the cone there may be a more pronounced turn towards the north, like by southern Texas.


I can't see them doing that based off of what I've seen. I think south Texas will be back in the cone...maybe slightly further north.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Your B-Day will not be ruined. And a Happy early B-Day!!!!
Still too early to tell whether or not his birthday will be ruined.

Louisianaboy444, where are you located?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
And you think this blog is hostile.

WATERVILLE, Wash. (AP) - An argument over butter in a macaroni and cheese recipe churned into violence between a brother and sister. A 21-year-old man called police June 6 to say his 17-year-old sister tried to cut his neck with the serrated edge of a spatula.

The police report said the sister was making macaroni and cheese when her brother asked if she was using butter. That led to an argument over the difference between butter and margarine. And, then butter battle escalated.

The Wenatchee World reported the girl was charged in Douglas County Superior Court with fourth-degree assault.
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2518. Patrap
Quoting hercj:

Now that i can do.


Well I'll def be in the Right Seat..

Dat V1, V2 thing always confuses me still..

LOL
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Maybe you ate some bad food?


Oh i know you just didnt! Dont ever criticize cajun food baw! whats wrong with you!
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2516. hercj
Quoting Patrap:


U and I can go wheels up..if we sneak in.

But dont tell anyone.

Ill get the chocks

Now that i can do.
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Why do i all of a sudden have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach? The same one i had when Rita's models were shfiting North...no no go back to Mexico...Its my birthday next week!


Your B-Day will not be ruined. And a Happy early B-Day!!!!
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Quoting Patrap:



Lotsa Alex to come yet I feel..

Thad Allen best have someone Lurking here..

Or some folks may look worse in 48 than they do now.

If thats possible.


Thad Allan got StormW's phone # tattooed on the back of his hand!
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting StormW:


And let's you and I have a couple of dem cold ones, Pat!


I think hes ahead of you already ;)
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My poll average is B. which is...

B.The forcasted track will shift north a little bit

Hope this clears things up.
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2511. Patrap
Quoting hercj:

Yep and that is probably the reason G4 is sitting in that big hanger at Macdill and the fellows at the AOC are drinking rum in ybor.


U and I can go wheels up..if we sneak in.

But dont tell anyone.

Ill get the chocks
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Why do i all of a sudden have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach? The same one i had when Rita's models were shfiting North...no no go back to Mexico...Its my birthday next week!
Maybe you ate some bad food?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Levi32:
The BAMM and BAMD shifting north is significant, as they represent what steering currents will be leaning towards while Alex is in the western gulf. The BAMS shows that a weak system will tend to continue westward, whereas a stronger storm will try to head northward, as one would expect. This means that how fast Alex is able to reorganize once it emerges west of the Yucatan will play a potentially important role in its future track.



Why do i all of a sudden have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach? The same one i had when Rita's models were shfiting North...no no go back to Mexico...Its my birthday next week!
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Quoting MrstormX:


Whats that Category One striking Texas?


Hurricane One
Link
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2507. hercj
Quoting Patrap:



Lotsa Alex to come yet I feel..

Thad Allen best have someone Lurking here..

Or some folks may look worse in 48 than they do now.

If thats possible.

Yep and that is probably the reason G4 is sitting in that big hanger at Macdill and the fellows at the AOC are drinking rum in ybor.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2506. Patrap

Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis 00 UTC

Multi-Platform Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Analysis

Currently, this product combines information from five data sources to create a mid-level (near 700 hPa) wind analysis using a variational approach described in Knaff and DeMaria (2006). The resulting mid-level winds are then adjusted to the surface applying a very simple single column approach. Over the ocean an adjustment factor is applied, which is a function of radius from the center ranging from 0.9 to 0.7, and the winds are turned 20 degrees toward low pressure. Over land, the oceanic winds are reduced by an additional 20% and turned an additional 20 degrees toward low pressure.

The five datasets currently used are the ASCAT scatterometer, which is adjusted upward to 700 hPa in the same manner as the surface winds are adjusted downward, feature track winds in the mid-levels from the operational satellite centers, 2-d flight-level winds estimated from infrared imagery (see Mueller et al 2006 ) and 2-d winds created from Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU)- derived height fields and solving the non-linear balance equations as described in Bessho et al (2006). Past analyses also made use of the QuickSCAT scatterometer (i.e., prior to November 2009), but this satellite is no longer producing observations of surface vector winds.

Each of the input data are shown in subpanels following the analysis (i.e., storm-relative). Shown are AMSU winds, Cloud-drift/IR/WV winds, IR-proxy winds and Scatterometer winds; QuikSCAT, when available for past analyses (BLUE) and ASCAT (RED). All input data in these panels has been reduced to a 10-m land or oceanic exposure depending on the location (i.e., non-surface data has been reduced to a 10-m exposure).

How good are the wind estimates? Here is the verification based upon 2007 data . These statistics were based on 1) H*Wind data when available and 2) best track wind radii estimates from NHC. In interpreting the wind radii verification it is important to not that the zero wind radii are included in the verification, which both skews and inflates the MAE verification statistics. Note however detection is improved over climatology provided by Knaff et al. (2007).
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You would think Alex would stay south of TX since it is farther south than Claudette was in 03

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Quoting IKE:
NHC won't shift the track a lot on one updated 5 day track. Maybe a gradual turn. Then more on the next if the next runs continue a trend.
IMO, towards the end of the cone there may be a more pronounced turn towards the north, like by southern Texas.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting louisianaboy444:


hint: it was another A storm on this exact date


idk
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2502. cg2916
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
B.


Ditto.
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2501. Patrap
Quoting StormW:


And let's you and I have a couple of dem cold ones, Pat!


Always time and room for dat chief..
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you guys are forgeting that the storm will be meet up with MR and MS wind shear
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Quoting bassis:
How accurate is the Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis?
It's based on satellite so the answer would be "not very".
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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